Pitch Fest helps Dinuba-area youth grow business ideas

One of the business-pitching events that was held during a previous year of the LaunchPad Pitch Fest in Reedley, where a crowd of entrepreneurs are audience to a presentation. Photo courtesy of Center for Community Transformation at Fresno Pacific University.

Fresno Pacific University brings LaunchPad Pitch Fest to young entrepreneurs in Dinuba, Cutler-Orosi communities

DINUBA – Fresno Pacific University’s Center for Community Transformation (CCT) is headed to Dinuba to continue its mission of supporting youth entrepreneurship with the second installment of the LaunchPad Pitch Fest event.

Open to individuals or business partners ages 12 to 24, the Dinuba LaunchPad Pitch Fest will provide young entrepreneurs with guidance in developing a business idea, writing a proposal and pitching a business to potential investors. The CCT hosted a similar event in Reedley last fall, and though it was not the organization’s first entrepreneurial development event, it was the first geared toward local youth.

“After doing the Reedley Pitch Fest, more community members were excited about being able to reach a separate but similar demographic within the Central Valley,” Bryan Feil, CCT associate director, said. “We had made some great connections … and it seemed like there was a good infrastructure and community partnerships to be able to put something together for the Dinuba (and) Cutler-Orosi community.”

Those who participate in Pitch Fest have the chance to win cash prizes and a scholarship to an 8-week LaunchPad business development course through Fresno Pacific. The event is open to both Dinuba and Cutler-Orosi area residents or anyone who is planning to start their business within those communities.

To reach the final LaunchPad Pitch Fest event, there are a few different steps participants can go through to receive instruction and feedback on their business ideas.

First, the CCT is hosting a 90-minute in-person workshop on April 18 to help young entrepreneurs grow their business ideas and be able to explain and present them clearly. The workshop, hosted at Living Word Fellowship Church in Dinuba, is free to attend and begins at 5:30 p.m. Those interested in participating can register online through EventBrite.

While participants are not required to attend the workshop, it could be helpful for those who want to participate but are not sure how to draft their business proposal or for those who want to talk through their ideas more.

Next, participants must submit their business proposals to the CCT by April 25. The business proposal should be submitted through a Google Form accessible on the CCT website. Contestants will be notified on April 26 if they are selected to share their proposal at the main event. Five to 10 finalists will have the chance to move on.

The CCT will then host a practice pitch session for finalists on May 2, providing an opportunity for participants to get comfortable with their presentation and receive feedback on what they can improve.

The main event is on May 9, and participants will take turns giving their pitches to an audience and a panel of judges. Judges will score the pitches and deliberate at the event, and investment awards will be announced shortly after to wrap up the entire event.

Pitches will be ranked and contests will receive cash prizes based on the results. The total amount of cash prizes depends on how much money the CCT raises for the event through community and business sponsorships. During the Reedley Pitch Fest, finalists received up to $2,000, and the CCT awarded a total of $5,000 to the four separate businesses presented at the event.

For the Dinuba LaunchPad event, the CCT is partnering with the city of Dinuba, the Dinuba Chamber of Commerce and Community Services Employment Training (CSET).

CSET is helping spread the word about the opportunity to its groups of students in workforce development programs “to continue that equipping that they’ve already done in entrepreneurship and have this be a natural next step for that community partner,” Feil said.

Feil said that the CCT is hoping to engage more high school-aged students in the event, as most of the finalists at the Reedley event were Reedley College students. To achieve this goal, the CCT is speaking with students at Dinuba High School who are involved in an entrepreneurial program to encourage them to participate.

For any other questions about the event, community members can reach out to the CCT at 559-453-2374.

The LaunchPad Pitch Fest main event is free and open to the public. It is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. on May 9 at Living Word Fellowship, located at 105 Westgate Way in Dinuba.

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